New DVDs

History comes to life with “Lincoln,” leading Tuesday’s DVD releases. Star ratings are by Seattle Times movie reviewers, freelancers or wire services. For full reviews, search the movie title at Release dates are subject to change.

3.5 stars“Lincoln” (PG-13): A peculiar, powerful alchemy takes hold in Steven Spielberg’s masterful portrait of the 16th U.S. president. Through that strange mix of realism, artifice, intimacy and scope that cinema uniquely possesses, viewers find themselves transported to 19th-century Washington, D.C., where Abraham Lincoln — portrayed in an Oscar-winning performance by Daniel Day-Lewis — has just been re-elected to a second term. But instead of a grand tableau vivant that lays out the great man and his great deeds, Spielberg brings the leader and viewers down to ground level. Thus “Lincoln” gratifyingly dodges the kind of safe, starchy hagiography that some Spielberg skeptics feared.

Working from a dense, lively screenplay by playwright Tony Kushner (who last collaborated with Spielberg on “Munich”), Spielberg infuses “Lincoln” with energy, acumen, surprising humor and the unabashed affection for his subject that most Americans will wholly understand and probably share.

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DVD extras: behind-the-scenes featurette. Also, on Blu-ray: “A Historic Tapestry: Richmond, Virginia,” about the choice of this landmark area as a shooting site. A four-disc combo set adds more featurettes, including “In the Company of Character,” on Day-Lewis’ portrayal of Lincoln.

Other releases

3 stars“Killing Them Softly” (R): Two loose-lipped dim bulbs (Scoot McNairy and Ben Mendelsohn) rob a card game, which brings a hard-eyed mob enforcer (Brad Pitt) down upon them.

1.5 stars“Parental Guidance” (PG): Billy Crystal and Bette Midler team up as grandparents taking care of their daughter’s kids for a few days.

3.5 stars“A Royal Affair” (R): This period love story involves a young queen (Alicia Vikander) who, after realizing that her new husband (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard) is mentally ill, turns to his physician (Mads Mikkelsen), a forward thinker who seems to understand her hopes and dreams. In Danish, with English subtitles.

3 stars“To the Arctic” (G): Greg MacGillivray’s documentary, narrated by Meryl Streep, introduces viewers to the wonders of the frozen north and how climate change is affecting the animals who live there.

“Step Up to the Plate” (not rated): A look at the bond and food artistry of renowned chef Michel Bras and his son Sébastien, now leader of his father’s restaurant. In French, with English subtitles. No star rating provided.


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The Washington Post